CAST evolves with structural and programming changes

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H. Fred Walker is dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology.

RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology is a vibrant, dynamic college based primarily on the good work and support of our faculty, staff and students.

CAST, as with all the other colleges, is actively engaged in calendar, curriculum, general education and information systems conversion. While the conversion will have a tremendous influence on our future, it is not the only source of influence on our future. We continue to reshape our mission, structure, academic programming, traditions and culture, and the plans we will use to guide our efforts.

The mission of CAST has for many years been to serve as an “academic incubator,” growing academic programs and units with the intention of launching them as independent operations. A current example is the movement of the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies to directly report to the provost. And while we still may have academic programs that transition to other areas within the institution, our mission has grown beyond that of an incubator. 

Our main goal is to create an integrated school-based structure throughout CAST. In September, we announced the reconfiguration of our former School of Hospitality and Service Management into a new School of International Hospitality and Service Innovation. 

Within this school we created two independent academic departments—the Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Nutrition Management as well as the Department of Service Systems. This structure will enable growth and better visibility for all of our academic programs.

One reason CAST has always been vibrant and dynamic is that our faculty and staff remain responsive to the changing needs of business and industrial supporters—the employers of our graduates. We will always be eager to embrace new academic programming—both in terms of content as well as pedagogy. 

We have recently rebuilt our human resources development and environmental safety and health programs, launched a new program in facilities management, and we are exploring new academic programs in forensic science and food science. Our intent is to provide areas for new growth and to develop mutually supportive topical areas to further integrate college units and schools, which enhance our community’s educational and work-life experiences.

One thing we wish to improve upon is the development of a holistic set of traditions and culture we can embrace as a college. As we go through calendar and curriculum conversion, it is clear that we will be entering a marketplace where 90 percent of our competitors will be on the semester calendar. It is also clear that the function served by accreditation will level the competitive playing field ensuring our curricula have the same basic ingredients, topics and admission requirements. 

The student experience we create will be one of the main ways we can differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Enhancing that student experience will require our focused effort on developing these traditions and culture—leaving a legacy for our faculty, staff and students for generations to come. Now the question is, “How do we get there?” The answer to that question is—a strategic plan.

For the past several months, a team of CAST faculty and staff has been working together developing a strategic plan. The plan is in draft form and has been vetted with our administration, faculty and staff. A key feature of the plan is continuous improvement. We will revisit the plan annually to make any adjustments necessary to remain responsive to our operational environment.

CAST is on a new and exciting trajectory. There are limitless possibilities for our college to grow and develop, and we are now in the process of making that growth and development a reality. Our faculty, staff and students remain our greatest assets and supporters. We embrace and appreciate our role as one of eight colleges within RIT. As we continue to redefine our college, our goals will be to enjoy what we do, value the individuals and accomplishments of our community and make a noteworthy and demonstrable contribution to the success of RIT.